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The Future of Work with Ergonomics

28 October 2022

The future of work has been an area of fascination among our greatest thinkers as renowned figures like Karl Marx, and even John Maynard gave their thoughts on what the workplace could look like in years to come.

In line with this social commentary, the evolution of work and how it is clear for all to see. Technology, in particular, has had some profound effects as rapid advancements continue to change the workplace, with automation as a central theme. Technological capabilities such as big data have enabled the collection of extensive consumer information for a more accurate model of the "typical user." As such, changes to work and the workplace have been made possible by implementing innovative new strategies.

The concept of ergonomics has been a major driving force in this change as its principles influence the design of most workplace factors. A major field in modern business, ergonomics deals with understanding the interactions between you and the factors within your workplace. In addition, it uses evidence-based data to optimize the conditions within the workplace for improved overall well-being. Traditionally, it attempts to work out the various hazards that employees continue to face, putting them at risk of injuries. Musculoskeletal injuries are among the most common problems in the modern workplace as governments spend billions treating numerous patients. You could be experiencing pain in several regions of your body; ergonomics tries to work out why and how to adapt the workplace in your favor best.

Whether you are familiar with the concept or a novice, it is clear that the rewards of its implementation could be huge. The importance of ergonomics in the workplace is supported by the number of benefits employees and employers stand to gain. They include:

Reduced incidence of musculoskeletal disorders

MSDs are injuries to your muscles, ligaments, nerves, tendons, and blood vessels. They are surprisingly common in the workplace and could be caused by negligible factors. At the workplace, you could be at significant risk of injury due to various design shortcomings, as even the angle of your pc monitor could be causing that neck pain that's been bothering you. Bending, tilting your head, lifting heavy items, executing repetitive operations, and generally working in uncomfortable postures could seriously hurt your body. Ergonomics works towards understanding the precise reasons for these injuries and developing strategies for designing the workplace, so you experience them less.

Improved overall well-being

Aside from your muscles and nerves, workplace hazards' stress and tension could affect other aspects of your life. Injuries to your back could severely disrupt your ability to perform personal tasks, while eye strain could cause permanent eyesight loss with devastating costs. In addition, returning home with fatigue and stress from the day's work could affect your ability to have social interactions. Technological advancements are increasingly making it possible so that workplace hazards do not impact even your personal life. Constant injuries from your workplace could even evoke feelings of possible departure in the form of employee turnover.
The recent pandemic has significantly impacted this as employees now prioritize personal well-being after lock downs, and home offices gave them a sample of better working environments.
With ergonomics, you can ensure your workplace conditions don't affect employee well-being and morale.

Improved productivity

Ultimately, being happy with your workplace conditions could motivate you to work harder. Employee happiness is linked to increased productivity, and ergonomics is a major contributing factor. Eye strain, for instance, could affect your ability to prepare work reports, while injuries to the neck, back, and shoulders could stop you from reaching the performance heights you once did. In addition, severe injuries from workplace hazards could cause layoffs to crucial staff and, consequently, significant disruptions. Ergonomics ensures that you can work effectively and efficiently by understanding your workplace environment for relevant guidelines on modifying it and your behavior accordingly.

Reduced costs and improved financial well-being

Studies on American workplaces show that workplace injuries cost companies billions weekly, highlighting the considerable burden they place on finances. Injuries at work could see spending large amounts for emergency treatment that is often costly, while companies are also affected by the layoffs of critical staff members. The decline in productivity also costs businesses significantly as they miss out on possible sales and revenue, while legal fees when major work-related accidents occur often prove costly. The principles of ergonomics reduce the incidence of injuries which consequently causes a decline in related costs. The benefits of reduced injury-related expenses could see the additional funds improve the well-being of you, your company, and the economy as a whole.

As evidenced, the importance of ergonomics in the workplace cannot be overstated. Consequently, research into the field is constant as researchers and companies seek to develop new ways of improving the effects of interactions between people and office factors. Technology has proven to be a significant catalyst in change as innovative inventions continue to pave the way for even better guidelines that will make the workplace better suited. As mentioned earlier, the pandemic has had a significant impact, too, as the experience left people wanting more from employers upon their return to work. A glimpse into the work's future with ergonomics reveals several factors that will set the tone for how you work and how the workplace is designed.

Some factors that will be central to the future of work with ergonomics include:

Increased employee input in design concepts

The pandemic has impacted modern business the most as global lock downs, and travel bans left many working remotely from home. Consequently, most of us were forced to adjust to unfamiliar working conditions as schedules became more flexible and supervision less strict. The result explored various ways work can be improved as the choice of home office equipment became important. If you didn't already have a home office, you probably got to design one from scratch, and in the age of ergonomics, you probably put your well-being first during the process. Consequently, it is hard to imagine returning to workplaces with different setups which are often detrimental to your health. Employers will thus have to consult you in the future when designing the workplace you will work in. Employee turnover as people look for the proper working conditions will also consider their opinion more in the coming years.

A more proactive approach

Traditional ergonomics was focused on preparing employees for the event that workplace risks do occur. As such, hazards were the primary focus as researchers looked into how your work environment could put you at risk of severe accidents and injuries. Modern ergonomics, however, is also concerned with the level of comfort you operate in with factors such as breathability of office chairs means to reduce the discomfort from sweating.

Regardless, the approach is still mildly reactive, with some strategies implemented after injuries. The future of work with ergonomics is set to include a proactive approach that improves risk detection to further reduce workplace injuries. Tomorrow's workplace will be able to identify risks through new ergonomic principles that will undoubtedly keep you safer from harm.

Regular checkups become more significant

In light of the proactive approach, ergonomics will also affect the future of work by raising the importance of regular checkups. To stay ahead of the workplace risks happening, it will be crucial for employers to periodically evaluate the various ways in which the workplace could affect them. In particular, business is an ever-changing landscape due to the rapid evolution of research and technology, which continuously provides new work methods. As such, the future of work may involve regular checkups as employers evaluate your workstations for potential threats that may endanger your safety, productivity, and even comfort. Big data and the Iot may have crucial roles in helping us understand how the workplace evolves with the new threats. Data on consumers and workplace environments collected during checkups will enable employers to identify new risks that emerge and jeopardize the quality of your work life. Ergonomics will increase vigilance in your work environment so that you can focus on your job.

A new strategy

The future of work will involve prescient ergonomics, a novel approach involving regular checkups for possible risks that make early detection and further injury reduction possible. An evolution of typical ergonomics seeks to make use of technological advancements and information to adapt workplaces better and ensure risks to your well-being do not happen. Further reducing the incidence of workplace injuries can potentially even save you, your employees, and the government money in treatment costs. The strategy will let companies protect you better against possible risks, ensuring you are well and at optimal productivity.

However, the future of work may already be here in the form of novel technologies designed to improve your work life, such as state-of-the-art, smart standing desks with advanced features that let you avoid sitting all day and hurting yourself. For more information on these and other ergonomic products, visit FlexiSpot.